05 August 2019 By Kitty Yarrow
Let’s talk about mental health and investing time in yourself. Fresh air, increased physical exercise, reaping the benefits of your hard work – these are all things we have spoken about in previous blogs such as Eat, Plant, Love. It’s time for you to cultivate a bit of calm and become more mindful, put down your phone and close your laptop (after you’ve read this blog) and get outside.
Create a zen space
Having that designated place in the garden that you sit in, lie in, or even work from (if you're too engrossed you can't tear yourself away from those emails) can be the centre of your reflection space.
An outbuilding, snug or greenhouse could be your home away from home but not too far away from the kettle. This is particularly fitting for the unpredictable British weather as we are not always blessed with 35 degrees and sunshine. Even on those slightly wetter days, an independent building, or greenhouse can provide escapism, from the chaotic pressures of home or work life. Turn your greenhouse into a place to relax with addition of chairs and furnishings, it doesn't just have to be where you tend to seedlings.
Create a peaceful environment inside your snug or garden room with lush greens and varieties of plants that will withstand being grown indoors, such as succulents. It's proven that surrounding yourself with plants is good for your wellbeing, with some species taking out pollutants in the air and providing more oxygen.
Depending on the atmosphere you wish to create, opt for neutral and soft tones if this space is purely for relaxing and unwinding with a good book. Whereas, introducing more vibrant and bold colours will ignite inspiration and creativity for hobbies or projects.
Soothe your stresses by introducing a water feature into the garden. The sound and sight of running water from a fountain or water sculpture has been linked to improvements in those with high blood pressure and some forms of anxiety. Ponds or Pebble Pools are not only aesthetically therapeutic but can also introduce a self-sustaining ecosystem. Natural water sites, particularly those that are located low to the ground, encourage a multitude of animals such as: birds, frogs and hedgehogs, helping you reconnect with nature. Positioning a seating area near to your water feature, such as a bench, will provide a serene viewing spot for you to relax and soak up the atmosphere.
If you wanted to indulge in a statement water feature, have a look at some beautiful designs by Jeremy Hastings. Jeremy owns a small company based in Cornwall and they use Cornish slate in all of their designs. Alternatively, if you wanted to make a natural pool and turn it into a bit of a project you can research all the materials you need, which are easily obtainable from your local DIY shop.
Living in a fast paced modern world, it can become overwhelming. Having a space to grow flora and fauna and order your vegetation can give you a sense of organisation. Gardening can involve a multitude of tasks from deadheading, re-potting, and pruning. Such tasks help us concentrate on the 'now'. It is common for many to focus too heavily on their own internal thoughts, particularly worrying about the future and the unknown; however, certain studies have shown that immersing yourself in your own gardening project can distract from these circling thoughts and realigns you to consider the cycle of nature.
There are also therapeutic gardening schemes that you can join across the UK if you don't fancy doing it alone. Thrive, based in Battersea has four gardens dedicated to encouraging those with social, mental, or educational needs to get outside and start digging.